This week is Banned Books Week here in the USA, a week when the ALA, in conjunction with many other organizations, brings to light books that have been challenged and/or banned. Yes, despite our First Amendment rights, there are those who are still trying to dictate what people should or should not be allowed to read -- many times without having read a particular book themselves.
From the ALA's website:
The ALA promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them.
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.
Here is a list of the ten most frequently challenged books, according to the 2013 State of America's Library Report (I have read two on this list):
1.“Captain Underpants” (series), by Dav Pilkey. Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
2.“The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
3.“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
4.“Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E. L. James. Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
5.“The Hunger Games,” (series) by Suzanne Collins. Reasons: Religious viewpoint, violence, unsuited to age group
6.“A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl,” by Tanya Lee Stone. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
7.“Looking for Alaska,” by John Green.Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
8.“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
9.“Bless Me Ultima,” by Rudolfo Anaya. Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
10.“Bone” (series), by Jeff Smith. Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence
Click here for a comprehensive list of Challenged Books in 2013-14, and here for a list of Banned & Challenged Classics.
I also found an interesting article from The Independent in the UK, BANNED: Books you could have been jailed for reading -- which includes the book I am reading this week, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Lolita was banned in many countries when it was initially published in 1955, though not in the USA. Now, of course, it frequently pops up on lists of challenged books for sexual content.
Celebrate the First Amendment and your right to read this week by picking up one of the many challenged or banned books on these lists!